The Arrogance of Office

This is the kind of thing that drives parents out of public school:

parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select

says Judge Stephen Reinhardt (seen at Joanne Jacobs)

The argument is about a sex survey given to first, third, and fifth graders. The survey itself seems reasonable. If my local school board wanted to do one, I would probably support it; Though certainly I would read the fine print.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is the heavy-handedness of it all. It is fundamental to our system that government can only act with the consent of the governed. In the short run, there is not much anyone can do about it. In the long run, it is just another component in the decision process that leads to private school, or church school, or home school. Parents are not going to passively let the judge decide what their children will be taught and when, and what they will be taxed to pay for it. (1)

The result is more outrage at judicial arrogance. A man may like the food, but be angry when it is shoved down his throat. If today the judge is sticking it to my political opponents, it does not take a great leap of imagination to see him sticking it to me tomorrow. The problem is not the way the way judge uses his power; He almost always uses it judiciously. The problem is that the judge has too much power.

The solution is left as an exercise for the reader.


1 Re-reading, I see that what I have said is not strictly true. Some people will passively let the state do as it pleases. Some are oblivious, and some think they are helpless. These are the parents whose children, disproportionally, will stay in the public schools.

2 Replies to “The Arrogance of Office”

  1. Grade school is long past for my kids but the public school experience left me with a good appreciation of why people homeschool or seek private schools. I would like to see less in the way of ‘social agenda’ and more in the way of education take place – real mastery of reading, science/arithmetic, history (not re-written by social agenda), and communication skills like writing and drawing (as opposed to ‘art’).

    What makes me want to see kids go to alternatives is that they spend 12 years in a system that demonstrably teaches them so little. We are obviously not getting our money’s worth.

  2. Most of us seem to agree that we are not getting our money’s worth, and that the individual teacher is not the problem. There is no shortage of people offering to fix things, but most of them are the people who have been in charge. The only thing I know to do is attack the problem on a micro level: Each of us has to see that our kids get the best education possible.

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